Gender Role In Voltaire's Candide

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Voltaire is one of the greatest and most famous authors in French literature. He was widely known as a playwright, poet, novelist, essayist and philosopher in the eighteenth century age of enlightenment in Europe. He was known for his advocacy of freedom of religion and other civil liberties. During the long life of Voltaire, he produced many works such as his famous satirical short novel Candide. It was derived from Voltaire’s interest in philosophy and human nature. Candide is satirizing the idea that we live in “the best of all possible worlds.” (Means, n.d.). Voltaire had a message to deliver behind creating the characterization of Cunegonde, Paquette and the Old woman in his book Candide. He wanted to review that females at that time were…show more content…
They had no right to express their own opinion or take decisions. Women had no position in the society at that time and they were being sold as slaves. The only thing that mattered was their beauty, which was unfair. In Candide, the experiences of Cunegonde, Paquette and the Old Woman show the attitude of society towards women in the eighteenth century. They strongly refer to how badly women were treated at that time. All of the three female characters are honest and realistic and they narrate stories about their sufferings in their lives as victims of their society, but in a comic way. Cunegonde is the most important female character in the book. She is Candide’s beloved, who retells the events of the opening chapters from her own perspective. The old woman narrates her tragic life story in chapters 11 and 12. She suffered in her youth as she was a princess, but ended up being abused and sold as a slave several times in Morocco and in other different countries. Cunegonde’s story in Lisbon gives Voltaire the chance to focus on and show the injustices of protestants, intellectuals, slaves, Jews and most importantly women. For example, Cunegonde was abused as a slave and was sold more than one time. Paquette suffered because she was forced to be a prostitute. Voltaire is satirizing the attitudes of the society towards the “gender role” in the eighteenth century. He shows the submission of females in the male-dominated society. He is trying to deliver a message reflecting the reality that women are actually suffering from being abused in many different ways. He is suggesting that society needs to change and stop that. Voltaire didn’t make less of the value of women by creating the prostitute or damsel characters, but he was aiming that women were treated badly and they have to be protected. (Fraser, 2012,
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